Aurevoir Manchester

Preping my return to homeland after a decade spent in this amazing city,  I have been extremely lucky to be involved with Manchester International Festival, working with the marketing team in the lead to the festival and as a festival fronteer as well during the 18 days of extraordinary works. All I can say is it was amazing!

I saw: Bjork on the preview night (pure joy), Dr Dee (confusing yet with stunning staging), Life and Death of Marina Abramovic (as expected crazy and wonderful – Dafoe is my hero), 11 rooms (different – loved hoping from one room to another, went about 4 times), Crash of the Elysium (scary and brilliant action packed play), Amadou and Mariam Eclipse (a unique  uplifting surprisingly very experience all in the dark, really enjoyed it), Alina Abragimova (second piece was a highlight for me), 1395 days with red and the projections at Whitworth Art Gallery (film was too long but interesting, the room with the film set up was incredible and the outdoor projections magicals), John Gerard led display (not for me), Audio Obscura (one of my favorite 30min) enjoyed some drinks at the festival sq and Bjork’s choir and few other bits and bobs.

I really enjoyed all the shows, some more than others but I overall thought it was a great success. I cannot wait for 2013!

The last few weeks have been incredible, making even more attempts at catching as much of Manchester’s spirit before returning to France.

Cycling around, visiting Chorlton’s eateries – went to Charango and was quite disappointed by the main but the rest was ok, not a transcending experience like walking the Inca trail though, drinks at gorgeous Hanging Ditch, enjoying soaking up the sun for Manchester Jazz festival, picnic/ing, dancing, breakfasting, shopping, lunching, cupcaking, chilling and dinning, the lot, amongst others. Full of Manchester me.

For those out there who thinks there is nothing to do in Manchester, open your eyes, you’re either lazy, boring or plain moany. Get your act together and get out there. There’s loads  for those who make the effort to find out.

Now, only a few more days and I am driving up from South of France and loading 10 years of life in a 9cubic m van. Interesting prospect.

I will certainly miss Manchester immensely and then Francunian will retire.


Weird experiences anyone?

Discussing Saturday’s night ‘play’  -  Odyssey by Dominic J Allen inspired by Homer –  I got to think about some weird experiences and how the play fitted on my list.

I have a top 4 weird things I can think of right now.

Here goes the list:

1) Marina Abramovic

Back in 2009 when she presented the ‘unerving and unforgetable‘ part of Manchester International Festival (2011 is on the way, yeaaah). It was set in The Whitworth Art Gallery who had been totally emptied of all art work for this incredible occasion. I was a volunteer there and took part in a 4h lock in, dressed in a lab coat, standing in 4 of the galleries – all more crazy than one another.

I have tried telling people about the out-of-this-world experience but no words could describe it. That was until  I found a video that does show a tiny bit of the wackiness of it. Enjoy!

I came out feeling like I had been in a very vivid dream, slightly disorientated but amazed. I loved it.

2) Bungee jumping.

This was a surprise treat for El Boyfriendo’s birthday. I thought it would be a lovely thing to do, jumping over a lake together, attached by a string. I got butterflies as soon as I booked it and until the day before the jump. On the day, I was surprisingly calm. Got to the venue and thought it didn’t look half as bad really. That was until we were put on a crane and lifted to 40m high. People on the ground looked like ants. So did my courage.

One way? Out. So we did. Off we jumped and bounced for a wee while over clear blue waters. What a strange sensation it is to feel the void and free fall. It is a feeling of excitment and horror mixed with unknown. Weird but I am not sure I would do it again.

3) The first Museum of Fluorescent Art in Amsterdam.

Yep, the first of its kind and probably the only one in the world. If you need to visit a museum in Amsterdam, make it this one! “The only museum of its kind in the world”.

I got to know this place the first time I visited ‘dam back in 2004 when I was on my student year abroad. I met up with my fellow uni friend and we went there on recommendations. Result? A mind blowing experience. We ended up on a very special visit with Nick – the Californian dude artist who loves to experiment with colour (the brightest the better) and who loves fluorescent and phosphorescent stones.

He built a psychedelic grotto and spent some quality time exploring its inspirational benefits. Now available to visit, he or his lovely artist French g’friend Michelle, will be happy to show you round and explain all the little intricate details of the place. Some fantastic little and very cheesey gems.

I have been every time I went back to ‘dam 4 times and everytime I take new visitors to the place. I have developed a little relationship with the artists and I love going back to Electric Ladyland (of course – Hendricks).

It is a bit of a crazy place and it is located in a really cool part of the city. I would highly recommend a visit.

4) Odyssey at The Lowry.

Saturday night 2011. Taken to the belly of the beast, in the basement of the theatre in a lift with a man wearing a fascinator, a white shirt, a bow tie, and tiny white hot pants with a plastic ball in it…Then lead us (15 peeps or so) into a dingy room covered from floor to ceiling in random blankets and filled with a miss-match load of furniture. We were told to sit wherever around the room as we were to participate. Yes, it was an experimental participatory play… It took a while for the actress to get someone to read and get people involved in general. I had to give out balls to people and was told “Enough, there’re enough balls out now”. We got to throw them at a man lying on a table and do monster noises. Random really. Then we got told to F. off and we went.

Result? I came out dazed, not knowing what happened. I didn’t get what the play was about or was trying to say nor did El Boyfriendo. Looks like we’re not the only one. Fail.

Just some old and not so old memories of randomness here!

What are yours?


Nouvelles News de Manchester

So yes, a mini update on the happenings of the mighty city!

MIF 2009 seemed to have been a success which means more to come! A great news for Manchester as the city of firsts  and exciting internationally acclaimed events!

This is with a tinge of disappointment that I heard about the relocation of  The National Football Museum from Preston to Urbis… Urbis is the only venue I visit regularly that’s because they put on exciting and fun exhibition. Football?? I understand the commercial appeal. It’s an interesting formula. Wider audience reach+pop culture x  new tourist destination = greater revenue. But come on, ‘it’s all about the money’ win again… Manchester needs more arty spaces of decent sizes and appealing exhibitions and Urbis is one of them . I’m not the only one thinking thisFootball 1 – Art 0 … But now, we are losing a great space to football…  Manchester Urbis said on his twitter yesterday Its not as bleak as you’re taking it! Honestly….  I hope so!

Still on the Urbis subject, I am looking forward to the return of the  Buy Art Fair taking place at the end of the month – 24-27/9. A very good place for affordable, no-fuss art buying opportunities. Free entry on registration or £5 on the door.  Get on it!

I am planning a visit to Manchester Art Gallery for the Goya exhibition! Goya has a special place in my heart as my painting teacher (we go back a couple of decades now… dear) was a big fan and transfered her love for the master painter to her students including me! Watch this space!

I am curious about Imperial War Museum North exhibition celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall! It starts tomorrow and is on till March 2010! So hopefully I will fit this in soon!

Manchester Cathedral is hosting a multi media exhibition to commemorate the anniversary of Ann Frank’s and her infamous diary.

This vivid multimedia exhibition draws visitors into the world of Anne Frank. Through audio-visual presentations, you will discover the concerns Anne expressed in her celebrated diary, and their relevance to teenagers’ lives in 21st-century Britain.

Also the Whitworth Art Gallery is hosting a British Museum touring exhibition on The American Scene! From 19/9!

Mucho, mucho going on and that’s just a taster!


FestiVal fever 2009

Here I am me and my first post!

Since it’s summer (according to the calendar anyway) and it’s also festiVal time I will give a little update on what I’ve been going to and/or wish I had(n’t) locally in the last few weeks!

July, being my bday month I thought to myself, let’s get cracking and make the most of my last few days in my 20’s! I think I did pretty well!

Coming back from a trip from L’Ile de Beauté Corsica – where I was a crooner, a rally driver, a scuba diver, a camper, a swimmer, and a lover, and I was then warmed up, ready for my upcoming Mancunian activities!

Manchester International Festival 2009 (finished on the 19/7 )! I took part in some of the production/events as a volunteer and as an educated visitor (??). It was an incredible experience. I managed to be a driver for Anthony and the Johnsons, personal driver round Manchester! I then took part in the 4h long live art experiment for the original Marina Abramovic . It all started pretty well, I was a sound engineer for the first hour while Marina was preparing us to enjoy 3h of live weird performance, and then I turned gallery assistant for the remaining 3h.

  • H+1 with a naked Chinese artist who kept staying round me – Yingmei Duan – I was supposed to interact with her but wasn’t really sure to what extent since she was naked and walking around me! Weird.
  • H+2 with Alastair MacLennan who walking like a little crab around a massive table covered in soil, pigs heads and trout, surrounded by shoes of all sorts– one of the ‘you had to be there’ type of experience….
  • H+ 3 was spent with a tiny French lady Marie Cool playing with installations made out of paper, strings and elastic bands.

My breaks were spent wondering the other 8 rooms enjoying the experiments – a naked lady falling down the stairs in slow motion (…), a Chinese lady playing with radio and jello, a girl falling on a bed/mountain top less, another girl under a pile of animal skins to name but a few! A strange evening to say the least…

Then there was the much more classic experience of the visionary work of Zaha Hadid Architect’s acting as an beautiful écrin for the music of Bach! Let’s not forget Flailing trees, and the really original b Rufus WrainwrightPrima Donna! Also had a dance to the sound of Micron‘s dj in the great tepee standing on Albert Sq. and a little picnic on the sun loungers. Great times! I can’t wait for 2011!

I also tried some fun activities: Kayaking one eve at Salford Quays water Sport Center ! Really great fun.

Then I moved on to volunteering for 24:7 Theatre festival that took place from the 20/7 to 26/7. 21 original 1h long plays! I managed to see and work on only 6 of them sadly!5:30 (2 unlikely people sharing emotional stories about themselves), The Last Chair (absurd comedy about chairs… and their extinctions), Remember Me (love story and death story to the sound of 90’s house music), Maine Road (Chavy family tribulations with some City references), Lub You (3 years old boy and a baby verbalising their thoughts! Original and moving somehow!), Dancing to the sound of crunching snails (Loved the game plays and the idea of family drama/comedy – I did laugh quite a lot, gaining unlimited entry by the writer!!).

In the mean time, my fourth decade arrived and to celebrate (I don’t commiserate!) the tribe and I ended up having a gargantuesque tablée in the lovely Ning! Malay- Thai restaurant nicely set up on Oldham St in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. Lots of nice food, hats, cards and cakes! Frogs even actually … El Roberto!

To finish my bday month of celebration, the Manchester Jazz Festival that took place all of last week, kind have passed me by totally sadly and only saw a few gigs on St Ann sq while on my lunch break or after work… Not a great deal to say other than it was wet and jazzy! I think by then, my excitement, and involvement in the Mancunian cultural scene was just like the weather – wet! Too much of a good thing…

So what’s next Manchester?

Coming up in my little box of suggestions and ideas are a few things I will sort out over the next few days!